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Wellness Program Survey

By April 3, 2015Commentary

A new survey from the National Business Group on Health and Fidelity Investments examines trends in wellness programs.  (NBGH Survey)   The survey included responses from 121 mostly large employers, 80% of whom said they offer some wellness or health improvement opportunity to workers.  Companies are planning to spend an average of $693 per employee on wellness in 2015, up from $594 in 2014 and just $430 five years ago.  The largest companies, those with more than 20,000 employees, spend the most, $878 per worker, while firms with between 5,000 and 20,000 employees spend about $661 per employee.  Incentives for participation are common, including gift cards, cash, reduced health insurance premiums or cost-sharing and contributions to a health saving account.  Fewer companies, however, are using penalties for not participating.  The most common health improvement efforts in 2015 are biometric screenings, which 72% of companies offer, health risk assessments, 70%, and physical activity programs, 54%.  Only about 5% of employers use disincentives in connection with these offerings, half of the number that did in 2014.  The only wellness effort with significant disincentive use is smoking cessation, where 17% of companies penalize failure to participate.  Although substantial incentives may be available to workers, only about 47% earned the full amount they could in 2014, while another 26% earned some of the maximum amount.  Employers clearly still have opportunities to improve wellness program design and to find incentives that maximize participation.

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